2015 was the year that I really started blogging. Technically I started tentimestea in 2014, but this was only a brief one month affair.
It’s been a year and yet sometimes when I look back at this past year of blogging, I feel like I’ve gotten nowhere. I haven’t made even a thousandth of the things I wanted to make (and I never really will get there–there just isn’t enough time in the world! or enough butter). I didn’t develop any recipes of true perfection. I didn’t take any startlingly beautiful photos or write deliciously unforgettable prose.
Ergo (I needed to use this word at some point), the review. A concrete reflection over the past year because surely, surely something has happened. And well, some things indeed have.
Below I’ve briefly touched on some of my favourite posts, and highlighted what came out of each of them, whether a particularly good buttercream or something deeper and more profound(??!?! actually nope. Having finished writing this post, some deeper meaning is just not to be found).
This was the first post that was a bit more a project. The mont blanc overall worked quite well, and I thought the vanilla creme diplomat was particularly stellar… perhaps it’s only with rose-coloured lenses, but I think that was one of my favourite smoothest, creamiest pastry creams that also held its shape. Looking back though, it’s full of some strange angles and awkward lighting…which still happens, but hopefully the fact that I can recognize it means I’ve improved a bit since!
So I didn’t notice this until now, but gosh, everything is very blue! That aside, these macarons turned out surprisingly well from flavours to textures. While the shells weren’t piped too cleanly, the filling was a great opportunity to use natural colouring (hibiscus) to heighten the colour of the rhubarb curd filling (which otherwise would have been a sort of off-beige-pink-yellow. I also got to use a lot a lot (i.e. an overabundant and overenthusiastic excess) of process photos…
While I was planning this tart I was so absolutely certain it would not work out well. That the mochi layer would be starchy and dry and in combination with the shortbread crust and cream, would make for something more unpalatably mouth-drying than a pail of unsweetened chokecherries. Yet, it did manage to work, and quite well! I played around with the mochi a couple times until I ended up with something very soft and lovely with the cream and just springy, not rubbery and too dry against the crust.
This post was also one of the few times I managed to have a bit of an anecdotal narrative preamble; finding something to write about is quite a challenge that I find difficult to surmount with almost every blog post!
What I loved about this tart was not the crust (which was soggy…as I’ve come to realize, I really need to blind bake!) but the flavours were good. I also made some good use of the shape of the tart pan. In the end what truly impressed me though, was that fact that I persevered in my rhubarb-poaching efforts until I ended up with lengths of cardamom and vanilla poached rhubarb more delicate and tender than I thought would be possible.
The introduction of dill, an herb I always associate with savoury, to a sweet cake and their subsequent agreeable interactions with each other was encouraging for my eventual goal of fitting parsley or cilantro into a dessert. The filling was a structural disaster and blindingly sweet, however the cake turned out nicely (the cake is not my recipe, so that makes sense). I made the cake again recently, with half spelt and 7 g of toasted ground black sesame–once again, it was the perfect light roll cake and went wonderfully filled simply with a good slick of unsweetened whipped cream.
I suppose I included this as a formality; this was the tentimestea birthday cake, which I had been planning for a month. It didn’t actually turn out very well though; the cake layers were tough and dry (something I’ve since learned to fix–well, sort of) and overall the cake was simultaneously too acidic and too sweet. The main achievement was the rhubarb buttercream. It was tart, not too sweet, and actually tasted of rhubarb–I’m still quite happy when I think back to it.
I not only was able to pay homage to one of my favourite food blogs, but also try one of the recipes that she has posted. It was lovely, even victim to my own clumsy hands and questionable fridge contents.
There is no way about it. This was just simply a spectacular failure, and sometimes it is quite exhilarating to be writing about those because there is inherently so much to say and so much to muse about and so much to consider.
I always love a good character foil, and, for that matter, a good quiche foil as well. On one hand we have a light and generously herby spring quiche and on the other we have an aggressively Swiss chard-packed quiche suffused with gruyere. Even the lighting seems to be in contrast when the two are juxtaposed. Oh my! I can see the beginnings of a great and gorgeously heart-breaking story already…
That aside, the constructive benefit of these two quiches is the realization of pure versatility: how well a vegetable tart of any sort can respond to the seasons and the contents of the fridge. Perhaps not quiche every time, but a flaky galette, or a crust of brioche, or a thin rye shortbread–any of it could be a base to a vegetative portrait.
(My tart enthusiasm is to blame for the effusive nature of the previous sentences.)
Best of luck to everyone in the (Gregorian calendar) new year! Happy blogging and reading, happy cooking, baking and eating, and most of all, take care and enjoy yourself.
See you again next year…